living in a world with wickams & willoughbys: watch the signs

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Men can be deceiving. They can say all the right lines, and a girl is swept off her feet. He is good at his games, and knows how to act and how to treat you in order to gain your affections.

Now, NOT all men are like this. But, unfortunately, we live in an age where this seems to be happening more and more frequently. Boy meets Girl. Boy likes Girl. Girl is flattered. Boy pursues, wins, and uses Girl (physically or emotionally). Then leaves.

Now, I’m no psychologist, but the occasions I’ve witnessed, I could see what was happening. But that’s because my dad has taught me what signs to watch out for, and has warned me time and time again of the dangers lurking, even in our Christian circles. There are so many young men out there who are just … SO convincing, and seem very trustworthy and noble, and equally too many young women ready to trust and fall in love at the drop of a hat with any guy who shows her attention.

Another thing: I think God has gifted us women with intuition. If we tap into that, we can usually make good judgements about people. For example, if there’s someone that you just have a BAD feeling about, even though you have little “proof” for it, chances are … you might be right.

Here are the signs to watch out for.

#1  The “Christian” Guy

There are a multitude of young men who will play church long enough to win the girl — and have no real foundation or authentic devotion for the Word of God. He may be able to quote John 3:16, but is made of rocky and thorny ground and will only “believe” while it is convenient. He’s probably even a nice guy. To him, Jesus is just the Nice Guy Upstairs who is not judgmental of anyone, and is even worth wearing a cool “Jesus Freak” shirt for.

Also, just because he can play with kids does not mean he will make a good dad. And just because he wears a purity ring does not guarantee he will be a good, faithful husband. Character goes beyond good deeds. A guy who simply professes Christ is not the same as one who lives out Christ.

#2  Mr. Wandering-Eye

Sometimes you can just tell what kind of man a guy is just by watching him. Now don’t stalk him, or stare at him, but just kind of … *notice* how Mr. Guy treats women in general. And, yes, men — even good, solid, Christian men — struggle with lust. However, I’m talking about those guys who “discreetly” look women up-and-down, and very frequently, and pretty much gawk at any woman that passes by. The ones who don’t look at your face when you’re talking to them. (You know the kind of guys I’m talking about.)

They’re pretty easy to spot. Stay away from them. No — stay clear away from them, like, as far as the east is from the west. They’re bad apples.

#3  Sir Flirt

Now I must be careful how I word this, so I don’t step on anyone’s toes. There are a lot of young men  I see who display a lot of unnecessary or inappropriate physical contact with young women. Not just the occasional side-hug, but constant, every-day touching, playing with hair, flirtatious contact, or full-on-pushing-the-limits-frontal hugs. To me, I can’t help but interpret this as the young man (possibly) having less-than-honorable intentions. This may not always be the case, but there are some impostors out to push the boundaries as far as they can get away with. Titus 2 says that young men should treat young women “with all purity, as sisters”.

(That isn’t to say that hugs with the opposite gender are inherently wrong, but they can be abused, and I am just recommending caution. I know a lot of wonderful, affectionate people who clearly have no intentions of harm, and that’s fine. In fact, I often receive hugs from people I know have no ill motives, and they are sincere and gentlemanly, but it just takes discernment and discretion as situation calls for.)

And consider these questions: Is his “secret life” no secret? Does his life really demonstrate the kind of Christ-like behavior that can only be gained from a strong relationship with the Lord? Does he come across as a guy who is desperate to find a girl? Does he notice and take care of the least? Or is he always gravitating to where all the cute girls are? Does he give of himself to others, for the glory of God, and not for reputation or admiration?

Remember — no man is perfect! We are all in desperate need of the grace of God (Rom. 3:23). This shouldn’t be a way that we hold men to impossible or idealistic expectations. But his fruit should show out of not only an outward display of his faith, but also a private one.

Young women, be not deceived.

(** Just to clarify, I have never had a romantic encounter (?) with an impostor. But I have personally seen this happen to people I know, and have heard countless stories of young women having to go through this. It makes me so sad to see and hear about these things happening, and so I was inspired to write a post about it.)

(Sequel-Post Coming!)

where the quiet things are

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Oftentimes I sit next to sun-lit windows, reading books or sipping tea or listening to music to fill the empty spaces — and these are the moments I contemplate the great complexities of life.

You know one of the things I love about romance movies?

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Gets me every time. The girl is just doing something not particularly special, or trying to be beautiful, but the guy is captivated nonetheless.

Have you ever met one of those people, who just had no idea how incredible and breathtaking they really are, and that just made them that much more beautiful? And usually it’s in those moments that are usually considered mundane, or seemingly insignificant, and they just look … beautiful?  What’s more, this person is perfectly content with being unnoticed. And it makes you wonder why the world hasn’t shined its light upon them to highlight them in this moment. Being around them, watching them, soaking in their quiet presence of greatness, leaves you in a daze of wonderment and awe for a few seconds, and yet they have no idea they’re doing it. Is it because they are so confident in their being that they don’t need attention? It’s like part of what makes them beautiful is that they don’t need recognition, or even want recognition, they just simply are.

One of my favorite quotes is from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty:

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The anchor of the movie is really photographer Sean O’Connell’s scene where he tells Walter that, when there’s a moment he loves, he doesn’t take the picture. Sometimes the camera just gets in the way. It’s more important to live and breathe in the moment for yourself, without the distraction of the camera. He tells Walter that “beautiful things don’t ask for attention.”

It’s this scene that distills what the whole movie is about. This is “the quintessence of Life,” as Sean says to Walter — and it puts everything that Walter’s done into perspective. This is revealed at the very end, when he finally finds the missing negative, the incentive of this entire journey, and he doesn’t bother to look at it. It’s irrelevant. Walter has found the beauty of truly living life and it can’t be captured in a single frame.

I’m starting to think that beauty attracts attention, but the same beauty doesn’t seek it out.  And yet, true beauty doesn’t stay hidden forever.  Like the snow leopard, or Walter Mitty, or Mother Teresa, or many other beautiful souls. Good things don’t demand attention. Nor necessarily do they want to.

Could a beautiful life be, at least in part, one that doesn’t demand attention? Jesus seemed to think so. He warned of the dangers of doing things to be noticed, doing things to secure the praise of others, doing things for the attention it would garner. He pointed to the beauty of goodness done in secret, far from the greedy eyes of others, insulated even from our own voracious appetites for praise. Another thing that comes to mind is this verse:

“. . . He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him.”

Isaiah 53:2

I think this verse is proof of the fact — or idea — that beautiful things don’t ask for attention. We are told Christ came as a humble servant to His people.  He came in humility.  Everything — His birth, His position, and even in His appearance.  In some sense, He wasn’t seeking attention.  He was truly beautiful.  The attention came to Him, sought Him out. By outward appearance, He was average.  But, really, He was anything but.

Also, look at 1 Peter:

“Let not your adornment be merely outward,

but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart

with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,

which is very precious in the sight of God.

This amazes me. Does this mean that part of beauty, in essence, encompasses humility? What we see in this quote is that the truly beautiful seek not fame or notoriety.  They are content.  They’re content in living their lives. Beautiful things don’t beg for attention, they draw attention because they’re beautiful. Does that make sense?

We live in a society where everyone wants to get noticed. Everything is broadcasted. When an event or a very simple moment is not captured on camera and documented on social media, it’s as if it didn’t happen at all. Beauty makes a booming entrance, with a pop and a BANG! It grabs attention. It struts down the aisle, forcing everyone to take notice. Our culture does a fabulous job of telling us that the ordinary is just not enough. And beauty is found in what sparkles, catches the eye at first sight — and some beauty certainly is! That isn’t to say things like the Grand Canyon or the Himalayas aren’t beautiful because they demand our attention. But let’s not forget that sometimes where the quiet things are … there’s beauty too? Yes? And oftentimes we live by the rule, “If you have it, flaunt it.” The more attraction you get, means the more beautiful you are, so do whatever it takes to get attention.

But what if I told you, that you don’t have to get attention to be beautiful. You already are. And I know it may seem at times that the things you do are small and unnoticed by others. But God notices them and they are not small to Him.

So maybe we should remember … the ordinary can be extraordinary if we let it, and we are all most beautiful, most attractive when we don’t try to be. We shouldn’t need anyone to notice our appearance, because God will and that is more than enough. Perhaps we should stop fretting about how we appear, and just enjoy life as it comes, and leave it up to that someone, somewhere, admiring us from afar, to find us in those few, fleeting moments of beauty.

(*update: read this post 🙂 )

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20 seconds

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Just a few minutes ago, I put my coffee in the microwave for 20 seconds. I walked across the kitchen, then the dining room, to the other end of the house, down the hall, to the office, said something to my mom, and had gotten back down the end of the hall when the microwave went off.

And I immediately thought, Wow. A lot just happened in 20 seconds. That’s crazy.

I can’t help but wonder about all kinds of other situations that could possibly happen in 20 seconds or less.

— a car crash

— a break up

— unkind words exchanged, hurt feelings

— a compliment and a smile

— a random act of kindness

— a soldier jumping on a grenade

— a shared joke

— a selfless act to save someone’s life

— a single look that says more than a thousand words

— a missed opportunity

— admiring a beautiful sunset

— a heartfelt conversation

— a prayer

Isn’t it amazing? It makes me take another look at how I’m living my life, moment by moment, day by day. How am I affecting others? Am I pointing them to Christ? Does my life give glory to God? Are my actions exemplary? The little girl at school that looks up to me … would I want her to imitate what I say and what I do? Am I cynical, or am I encouraging to be around? Am I complaining more than I am focusing on others instead of myself?

What do you think? And what other things could happen in 20 seconds or less?